How To Wear Smart Shoes

   With smart shoes there are two rules of thumb as to how men can best incorporate them into their wardrobes, both of which I aim to highlight in this article.

   I've previously written a post on the topic of why Italian shoes are best  - once more I intend to use a pair of Oliver Sweeney's finest footwear to demonstrate this but, rather than focus on their construction and the craftsmanship behind them, I will highlight the shoes' versatility instead. Regardless of one's preferred sartorial style, its possible to take an elegant, dapper shoe and use it to enhance one's appearance.

Smart Shoes, Formal Attire

   The first of the two options for how to wear smart shoes is the most obvious. It would not take a rocket scientist to understand that a simple way of incorporating high quality footwear into one's ensemble would be through teaming them with similarly formal attire. In my attempt to put together a "traditionally" smart outfit to demonstrate this, I've sought inspiration from the styles of the 1920s - perhaps my favourite period in the history of fashion.

   The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noted that the look I have composed features the Goorin Bros fedora I've previously waxed lyrical about on this site.

   In years gone by the two most important items any man could own would be his headwear and his footwear - for a multitude of reasons, but especially the deformalisation of clothing during the radical 60s, this has become less and less true in recent times. Yet, for discerning gents who are more concerned with their aesthetics than with the fripperies of flippant trends, returning to the sartorial values of a previous age of sophisticated masculinity allows us to indulge in the long-forgotten art of utilising the extreme ends of one's attire to enliven the entirety of one's appearance.

   The outfit on display here is, as you can see, largely muted colour-wise. The greys of the trousers and waistcoat, the white shirt, and the black pea-coat and tie could, hypothetically, combine to make a rather dull combination. Yet, it is the subtle infusion of colour provided by the outfit's anchoring pieces - the shoes (and to a lesser degree, in this example, my glasses) - which add colour and energy to the outfit. Here, too, the fedora adds an ornamental detail to the ensemble which elevates the outfit from the staid to a more debonair vibe.

   The smart shoes here, then, are used to elevate and transcend the formal attire - they're the understated item which quietly gives the whole outfit its character. This feels less like a random suit thrown on for a formal occasion and more like a style statement thanks to the choice of shoe.

   Anybody who studies music will know that the most important member of any band is not, as one may expect, the guitarist or even the drummer - it is, instead, the bass player. Their function, to lead the rhythm section and to provide roots upon which harmonies are formed, is exactly the same as the footwear in the above example of how to wear smart shoes.

Smart Shoes, Informal Attire

   The second, and less obvious way, of wearing smart shoes may seem counter-intuitive.

   Why, one might ask, would I spend a substantial amount on footwear so as to undermine them with clothing choices which seem to contradict the purpose of my initial investment?

   Whilst the overall effect of the following example may be, in many ways, the opposite of the traditionally smart formal wear as illustrated above, the theory behind this choice is the same. The shoes, once more, act as a piece which anchor the outfit and sets the tone for the rest of the ensemble.

   The smart-casual approach to clothing, as pioneered by Tony Blair , is one of the easiest looks to get wrong - indeed, the misconceived notion that simply wearing jeans with a blazer constitutes a mastery of the style has somehow spread through society.

   The misunderstanding here once more relates to the fact that the anchor piece of the composition commonly gets neglected; referring back to my earlier allusion, and somehow quoting Meghan Trainor simultaneously, when putting together an outfit (whether it is smart-casual or simply smart), it's all about the bass. Without a high quality pair of shoes, "smart-casual" becomes simply "casual" or, on occasion, "shabby-casual". It is the footwear which makes the style and no matter how much you try and convince yourself that your trainers are "smart enough", they simply will not suffice. To use one more metaphor - one's choice of footwear is what one builds the rest of their outfit on. Selecting trainers or low quality slips is like building upon a foundation of sand.

   Whilst I indisputably prefer the more formal outfit of the two illustrations on display, its essential, too, to have a few clothing options in one's wardrobes for the times when one is neither dressed down for physical labour/sports or dressed up for an event. Indeed, this second example is the type of outfit I'd recommend wearing for a quick drink at the pub to watch the football at or for wearing to one of the many jobs now which requires its employees to steer clear of the traditional shirt-and-tie look.

   For the second outfit, I've picked a short-sleeve collared shirt and jeans to counterbalance the formality intrinsic to the shoes. In jazz freestyle, the bass roots the piece and provides a sturdy foundation whilst the lead instruments, be that a saxophone or piano, are free to be more weightless. This theory applies here - the casual element is liberated by the Italian shoes on display.

   So, with reference to the title of this post, it is possible to wear smart shoes in at least a number of ways on a daily basis. The investment in a fine pair allows for versatility in our dressing and can dignify our daily whims with a sound grounding. Regardless of whether you like to dress in a classic fashion, like myself when possible, or prefer the freedom of casual clothing, a pair of high quality shoes should be an integral part of your wardrobe.

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